I wanted to take a moment to expand on and clarify my statement about the possibility of closing Turner Street, which appeared on the front page of the Friday, June 21st edition of The Ada News.
The original quote said, “To me, Turner Street is an impediment to us having the property we need to attract the businesses that we want to attract. I’m in favor of Turner Street going away all the way through the city, ...” This quote was part of a discussion during a city council meeting about the request by Trinity Baptist Church to close the half block of Turner that runs between their sanctuary building and their fellowship building. The economic development portion of why and how we may choose to close portions of Turner Street wasn’t a part of that discussion, so I didn’t go into further detail. Now that the quote has landed in the paper, I feel that those who own property on and around Turner Street may have been unduly scared by the statement as it currently sits. I want to try to relieve that fear and explain my thoughts.
First and foremost, I want to make it clear that I do not and will never support people being forced to sell their homes so that the city can have larger retail shopping centers. If you own a home on or around Turner and you don’t want to sell it, then this conversation is over. Period. End of discussion.
What I envisioned in my comments was a large retail store that wants to build a building (or a shopping center) that is too large to fit on the very small lots sandwiched between Mississippi and Turner. If this company wanted to purchase the property on Mississippi and the property on the other side of Turner Street, I believe the city should be willing to close Turner so that the business can locate there. (We’ve actually already done this once for Braums.) In this scenario, the city would only close the street after the property had been purchased.
In this Economic Development plan, the only time Turner Street could be closed would be when a company had purchased the land on both sides of the street and had immediate plans to use the land to build or expand their operations. Unless the land has been sold and the plans made, Turner would remain open. This means that I do not support the city closing Turner Street as a whole at this time.
A recent study showed that the stretch of Mississippi between Main and Arlington is Ada’s most driven road. This means it is also a highly attractive part of town for a company to locate. For example, if the Ross clothing chain wanted to open a store in Ada, they would want to put their new store somewhere that it will be seen. Mississippi is #1 on that list. The next thing they would need is a piece of land big enough for their store. This is where we have a problem. There is very little room between Mississippi and Turner, Ross will never fit. For Ross to locate on the west side of Mississippi, they would have to buy the property on Mississippi and some of the houses on the other side of Turner Street. If they want that property bad enough to make those purchases, I see no reason why the city shouldn’t be willing to close that section of Turner street. One of the main complaints I hear is the need for clothing stores in town, if a section of Turner Street is the only obstacle in the way of bringing this store to town, we should be willing to remove the obstacle.
I’m sorry if my short quote from the city council meeting scared property owners. In reality, I believe that this plan is probably the exact opposite of what you first feared. The city will not be taking your house away nor will the city force you to sell. What we want to do is let retail companies know that if they want to make property owners on Turner Street an offer they can’t afford to turn down, then the city will be happy to do our part to bring the types of retail stores to town that our citizens want and need.